The Cold Truth About Electric Cars in Winter: What You Need to Know

Winter with its low temperatures poses challenges for electric cars. If you own an electric vehicle, you’ve probably encountered the issue of increased energy consumption during this time of year. The truth is that there’s a scientific explanation behind it.

Cold weather isn’t particularly favorable for electric cars, but there are nuances to consider. It’s evident that electric vehicles perform below their optimal energy efficiency in the winter months due to lower temperatures. However, the extent of this performance drop varies depending on the specific electric car you own.

electric cars in winter

Why Electric Cars Use More Battery in Cold Weather

Electric vehicles indeed struggle in cold weather, but there’s a rationale behind this phenomenon. Low temperatures reduce the range of electric cars because of chemical and physical reactions occurring in the energy storage systems. The cold slows down these reactions, affecting the overall performance of lithium-ion batteries.

Depending on your electric vehicle model, the loss of range can vary, but it’s undeniable that it’s not the same as in milder temperatures. Cold weather negatively impacts batteries, causing the battery’s capacity to decrease due to the slowdown of the electrolyte fluid within lithium-ion batteries. The process of moving lithium ions from the anode to the cathode is also affected.

The Impact on Electric Car Range in Cold Weather

To illustrate the effect, consider an electric car with a consumption of 22.4 kWh per 100 km at 16 degrees Celsius. On days with temperatures as low as 3 degrees Celsius, the consumption can increase to 27.3 kWh per 100 km, translating to a 21.9% increase in consumption. However, it’s important to note that the degree of impact varies among different electric car models.

Additionally, during cold weather, there’s an increased demand for energy to heat the cabin. While no one wants to be cold while driving, using the car’s heating system excessively can deplete the battery faster. Therefore, it’s advisable to use heating conservatively.

Charging Considerations in Cold Weather

Cold electric car range

Cold weather not only reduces the range of electric vehicles but also affects the charging process. This is primarily because manufacturers implement battery management systems to protect the battery, especially during charging in sub-zero temperatures, which results in reduced charging speeds.

This effect is more pronounced in extremely cold conditions. Fortunately, many manufacturers offer pre-conditioning programs that allow the car to prepare the battery before fast charging, improving charging efficiency. To better care for your electric vehicle in cold weather, consider these tips:

  1. Charge the vehicle when the battery is still warm.
  2. Plan your routes to ensure the car is charged when needed, minimizing inconvenience in the cold.
  3. Preheat the vehicle while it’s connected to the charging station to avoid direct battery consumption.